Home Office Ideas: Sneak Peek

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Good Morning Weirds.

As you know from my obligatory New Years Goals post, I want to set up an office in our second bedroom. Thanks to Pinterest, I have finally figured out what I want it to look like. Sort of. I am still deciding on the actual placement and furniture, but I have a good idea of the colors and overall style I am aiming for.

I need a space that is all mine and that inspires creativity and productivity. I work from home as a freelance writer, so it has to be functional but also pretty. A place where I want to work.

Here is just a little sneak peak of some ideas I have. More to come when it progresses past “Oh, that would be cool!” to “Oh, it’s an office now!”

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1. These gold shelves inspired the gold aspect of the office.

2. A little bit busy, but I like the twinkle lights and pictures in front of the desk.

3. A gold clipboard gallery wall? Yes please!

4. Considering large desks in the middle of the room instead of an L-shaped desk against the wall.

5. Lots of shelves.

6. Teal couch from Dot & Co. Brilliant.

7. I have always loved marquee letters!

8. Who doesn’t love a fun and colorful pillow party?

9. All the gold all the time.

Happy Friday!

 

A Day in the Life of a Freelance Writer: A Semi-Typical Day

I know these posts usually have pictures, but who has time for that?! Will do better with the next one!

 

Today (though this is going up tomorrow) is a semi-typical day. It is fairly close to what I do every day, with a few exceptions. I usually do more writing and less research than I did today, but I have some in-depth articles and reports to write, so the research part takes up more time than actually writing it. I also had a phone conference, which only happens once a month.

Whether you’re interested in what freelance writers (or freelancers in general) do all day, here is a brief rundown of my day.

6:00 am – Wake up, get ready for the day.  I woke up at 6. It’s fairly normal. Most days I get up between 4:30 and 6:30. Just whenever my body decides it’s time, or my dogs jump on my face demanding I get up.

6:30 am – Check email and apply for jobs. By 6:30 I’m ready to work for the day. I spend 99% of my time in yoga pants and t-shirts. That’s just how I roll. So “getting dressed” simply means changing my pajama yoga pants into my day yoga pants. I spend the first hour of my day checking and responding to email, applying for jobs on the daily job boards, and checking my social media. I was finding that I was checking it too much throughout the day, so I force myself to only check in the morning, at night when I’m done working for the day, and on my breaks if I get any.

7:30 am – Walk to the store. I don’t have a car and I needed a few things from my store, so between 7:30 and 8:30 I was just running some errands.

8:30 am – Started researching work. At this point, I was ready to finally start working, which consisted of going through my workload for the day, creating documents, coming up with titles and topics, and starting to research them. Today, I have roughly 13,000 words total to write, so it’s going to be some heavy research.

10:00 am – Conference call. From 10-11, I had a conference call with my writing team for one of my bigger projects. It was the first one, so this isn’t something that usually happens for me. I was about as awkward as can be expected.

11:00 am – Photographed jewelry. Another thing I don’t have every single day is stuff for my Etsy shop. I recently got supplies for a new Spring line so I had to take advantage of the natural lighting I was getting. It really messes with my focus when I have to stop working for things like this, but it has to be done!

11:30 am – Finish researching work. Another hour was spent researching work. Because of this, I had to skip lunch today, so I just quickly made a sandwich and ate while I worked.

12:30 pm – Finally start writing. It’s pretty rare that I don’t write until after noon, but I had some other things going on in the morning and researching this work took longer than it usually does. Some nights, I can get everything prepared for the morning, but today I had last-minute assignments come through in the morning that added to my day’s work.

3:00 pm – Edit jewelry pics and post. I took a break from work to get some of my pics edited. I really want to get all of these up as soon as possible since they’re being marketed for Spring. Posting items to Etsy is time consuming, so I tried to rush through this as much as possible. I photographed a lot, but only had time to edit and post a few.

4:00 pm – Back to writing. I am now finished with 6 blog posts, 3 business articles, 3 hotel descriptions, and 2 re-writes. I spent this hour starting on the rest of my travel articles for the day.

5:00 pm – Dinner time! I lucked out and had my husband make dinner tonight, since I didn’t have a spare moment and we got microwaveable pre-prepared meals from Fresh and Easy. Seriously a life saver when you don’t have time for shit!

6:00 pm – Finish work, research, get my husband’s work ready. The end of my day is for finishing up whatever isn’t done by now. I always have a goal to be done before dinner, but I have yet to accomplish it. I finished my writing work for the day, and managed to research about half of what I have for tomorrow morning. I also get my husband’s work ready since he is up at night doing other writing/editing/research projects. This started as my business alone, so all communications go through my email. I just make him a list of what needs to be done at night. There are certain projects I save for him because of the topics or if they are due early the next morning.

9:00 pm – Blog post, then family time. I’m getting through this blog post as fast as I can. My dogs know when it’s time to stop working for the day. One is pretending to stretch on me while the other is laying right on top of my feet. As for family time, we always make sure we have at least an hour or two every night for spending time together away from cell phones and computers. Usually my husband and I watch a movie, play a video game, or play with the dogs during this time. Sometimes I’m so exhausted I just sit and listen to him talk. Either way, it’s important to us to make time for it.

11:30 pm – BED TIME! 

In case you lost count, it’s about 14 hours of working. Whether that means researching, applying for jobs, sending communications, getting docs ready, uploading to Google Docs, working on my Etsy shop (it also generates income) or actually writing, it’s still work. When you freelance, everything is your responsibility, from marketing to writing and editing.

You will notice I didn’t do shit around the house 🙂 I have gotten better with that lately, trying to save an hour in the afternoon for at least picking up, or I will do laundry sporadically throughout the day, but I don’t have time some days. Men super suck at cleaning, but I do give mine a list of things I need done/don’t have time for that he can do without screwing it up. Like vacuuming.. God Bless a husband who likes to vacuum! Aside from that, if it doesn’t get done, it doesn’t get done. I don’t see any cleaning police showing up at my door with a citation.

I hope that helped, or at least made you see what a workaholic I have become, and why I almost never have time to write a blog post. I’m working on that too!

JennSig

Freelance Writing: The Pros and Cons of Writing for Content Mills

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A content mill is essentially a website that pays writers for articles they choose to write. Each of them works slightly differently, so you need to get used to the requirements, pay schedule and process of each of them individually. For example, some mills include Demand Studios, Textbroker, Crowdsource and Scripted.

I won’t lie; working for content mills is kind of shit. However, when you are first starting out and hoping to earn more than the pennies you get from revenue share (like on Yahoo! Contributor Network), you might need them. I started out with content mills and I got really lucky. A few years ago, they were everywhere, paid decently, and there was tons of work. Since then, Google has gone through several new algorithms, changing how search results are created, killing a lot of these sites.

You can still find some content mills that pay rather quickly and on time, and have some articles available in the pool. But for now, let’s talk about the pros and cons of writing for content mills.

PROS of Writing for Content Mills

They pay on time. I should mention they pay on time most of the time. When you freelance, you get used to things happening on occasion. For the most part, I haven’t had a problem getting paid when I am meant to.

You get upfront payment. When writing articles for content mills, you either get upfront payment or revenue share. Revenue share means you get paid per 1,000 views, while upfront payment is a set amount for the article you chose. Most content mills have upfront payment.

You can choose the topic. This also varies based on the site, but many of them simply have a pool of articles you choose from. It lets you pick and choose what topics you feel most comfortable with. Warning: There will be moments when all they have is technical automotive bullshit. You take what you can get.

It gives you experience. If your long-term goal is to be a freelance writer with private clients, you need experience. Since most content mills don’t require a lot of experience aside from showing you are proficient in grammar and proper sentence structure, it’s a great way to do that.

CONS of Writing for Content Mills

The pay is on the low side. This of course depends all on your perspective, how much you want to make, and how long it takes you to write articles. Some content mills pay a cent a word ($5.00 for 500 words) while others pay $15 or more for the same amount of work.

The work is inconsistent. As I mentioned in the pros, you can choose from available articles, but the ones available aren’t always what you want to write. One day, a content mill can have 2,000 articles in your topic, the next day they have 5 really terrible titles that are impossible to write.

Editors can be brutal. There is an unspoken distaste between writers and editors who work for content mills. A lot of it is miscommunication and inconsistency with what the clients or admins are going for. Expect some of your work to be slashed, some to be rejected, and others to demand so many edits you practically re-write the entire thing.

Everything is unpredictable. The same can be said for content mills, clients, and freelancing in general. Don’t ever assume the work you have is going to last forever. Freelancing isn’t about finding a great project and having it forever. You need to constantly grow and change and find new opportunities.

I don’t mean to be overly negative about content mills, but to give you my honest opinion so you can decide if this is something you want to pursue. The ones I have worked for have paid my bills, my rent, fed me, clothed me, and given me enough experience to get stable clients. It’s not all bad, but you need to look at it from an honest perspective and understand the good and the bad.

Good luck!

JennSig

Freelance Writing: Quick Resources

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Due to a large number of responses, questions and comments recently, I decided to turn this into a series. To start off, I know many of you are just looking for a place to start. So here are some helpful resources and tips.

Tip #1: Have a Portfolio

Even if you are just starting out and looking for your very first writing job, you need to have samples of some kind. They can be posts from your blog or guest posts on another blog, website content, or print work you have scanned into your computer. Clients and content mills need to know you know what you’re doing, so there is really no way around this. Many content mills will ask you to write a sample for them, so having experience helps.

The WAHM.com Forums

I highly recommended reading through at least a few pages of posts on this Freelance Writing section of WAHM.com. This is where I got a lot of my jobs. Not only do private clients post fairly frequently looking for writers, but writers who have extra work do, and a lot of your common questions get answered.

Tip #2: Get Work Published

When building up your portfolio, having at least a handful of articles published in your name (not as a ghostwriter) is invaluable. Having your own blog is a good start, but also getting work published by a site that is recognizable. I started out getting work published at Yahoo! Contributor Network. It is one of the best places to start, though be aware it only pays per view.

FreelanceWritingGigs.com

Another site I think you should check out when it comes time to find private clients is FreelanceWritingGigs.com. She finds all the best job listings across the web and posts them Monday through Friday on her blog. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also look yourself, but it’s a quick way to get the best listings.

Finding Private Clients

The end goal really is to have private clients, even if you do start working for revenue share or content mills. Here are some ways myself and other writers have found their clients.

  • Keeping a writing blog updated regularly
  • Having a writing website, with portfolio
  • Posting and responding on writing forums, like the WAHM.com one
  • Posting or responding to ads on Craigslist (will go more into this later on)
  • Having a Twitter or Facebook page advertising your writing services
  • Word of mouth

I’ll be back with a list of content mills that are currently accepting writers and have steady work.

JennSig